Posts Tagged wicking
When ExOfficio debuted its travel underwear some eight years ago, you could have any color you wanted as long as you wanted black or gray. Like the “minimum viable product” touted in The Lean Startup, this test was a raging success as frequent travelers like me snatched them up and spread the word. Each year since, more colors and designs have rolled out the door.
The women have had more varieties to choose from than the men since, let’s face it, we’re not known to be all that particular about the color of our underwear. I’ve been trying out some new styles lately in my travels, however, refreshing the underwear pocket of my bag with some fresh looks.
Give-N-Go Travel Briefs
First up, the Give-N-Go briefs, which now come in 12 different colors. You gotta like the names: stop, go, rescue (pictured here), and curfew, for example. No, I haven’t been reading Men’s Health enough to get abs like the model in that photo, but I do tend to use briefs more than boxers, so I pack these for every trip. They pack tight, which is always good, but the main reason ExOfficio sells these by the truckload is that you can wash them in the sink at night and have dry drawers by morning. Heck, an hour if you put them in the afternoon sun.
These briefs are extremely comfortable and built to last. I’ve got a pair of boxers I’ve had since 30-some country visits ago and I’m sure these will be around just as many years. You can get them direct from the company for $20 or less or order them from Moosejaw.
Sport Mesh Boxer Briefs
When some people think of travel they picture cocktails on the beach and swinging in a hammock. Others look at that as torture and would rather be shredding a trail on a mountain bike, climbing rocks, or hiking 15 miles a day through the wilderness.
This underwear is for them. More like what athletes would wear than sidewalk surfers, these stretchy wicking briefs are for active pursuits where you need some support. Like all the Give-N-Go options, they’re treated to be odor-resistant as well. Made from nylon and lycra, they add almost no weight to your bag. Although these have more fabric than the regular boxers or briefs, they still compress down small. You can get the 6-inch length pictured here or longer 9-inch ones.
You don’t usually see travel underwear reviews in the likes of Outside or Travel + Leisure magazines, but we’ve covered the options multiple times here on Practical Travel Gear because you wear underwear every day. If you’re traveling light for 12 days, you don’t necessarily want to carry 12 sets of undies. Especially in a carry-on.
So for people who are good at packing light, fast-drying underwear is something they toss in the bag every time. The idea is that you take half or less the number of days you need, then do a sink wash along the way when needed. (Hint, shampoo is a detergent if you don’t want to carry laundry detergent specifically.) If you’re carrying the right kind of undies, like this underwear from Tilley, then what you wash before bed will be dry by morning.
I like to give my travel gear a good workout before I write up my review, so two pairs of Tilley underwear have traveled with me to Colombia, Ecuador, Veracruz, the Riviera Maya, and Louisiana. They almost felt like normal cotton when on my body, but when I needed to wash them they easily dried overnight. In the sun, they’ll dry in an hour.
They’re not normal cotton though—they’re 100% polyester. They would fool you though as they definitely don’t feel clingy and slick or make you feel like you went back in time to sing for the Bee Gees. They wick moisture, but they’ve also got some absorbancy, which is important for a lot of reasons…
These Tilley Travel Briefs retail for $20, which is certainly more than you’ll pay for a pair of Hanes at Target. But they’ll last you a lot longer and will help you pack light in your travels over and over again—while still remaining comfortable on the move.
See this older review of the Coolmax underwear versions if you’re headed to a really hot climate.
Lightweight, quick-drying, rugged, and comfortable, the Mountain Khakis Equatorial pants check off all the right boxes.
Here at Practical Travel Gear we’ve probably reviewed more pairs of travel pants than any other blog or website on the planet. So when we give a pair of them a big thumbs up, you can be assured they hold up well against some tough competition.
Mountain Khakis is best known as the company producing rugged, last a lifetime western wear for people who spend a lot of time outdoors. Over the past few years though they’ve become a major force in more casual wear and travel clothing that is lighter, but has the same high quality. We’ve reviewed quite a few of their travel shirts and MK women’s travel clothing in that department. These Equatorial Pants are a further evolution and I highly recommend them.
First of all, they’re incredibly lightweight, which is great for both packing light and traveling to hot destinations where shorts are not really acceptable. (You don’t realize until you go traveling around the world that hardly any country’s men wear shorts as much as men here in the USA.) These travel pants weigh in at just 3.7 ounces, which is probably less than some of your t-shirts. So they take up almost no room in your bag and don’t but a smidgen of weight.
Despite that, they’re super-strong, with such a high-density weave that they’ll repel stains and drizzles, and also provide an impressive 50+ UVA/UVB sun protection. Naturally they dry super-quickly. When I hung them outside in the high desert of central Mexico, they were dry and hour later. So overnight shouldn’t be an issue in most climates.
These are quite secure travel pants in two ways: you’ve got hidden zipper pockets that are two of six total to keep away sticky fingers. Then you’ve got a snap cuff on the bottom of the pants to keep out pesky mosquitoes. Consider it extra malaria insurance in the tropics.
I’ve usually got something to gripe about with even the best products we try out, but I can’t find fault with these Mountain Khakis Equatorial Pants unless it’s to caution you they’re probably too thin for cold weather trips. But that’s true for any of these lightweight nylon ones.
Want to have the advantages of one of those travel wallets that hang around your neck without the neck thing? The pockets on this Pickpocket Proof Shirt will keep your valuables next to you and safe.
These shirts aren’t quite as heavy-duty Pickpocket Proof as the P^Cubed pants because they’re not meant to make you look like you’re wearing a ScotteVest. Instead there are just two chest pockets that look normal.
They’re not quite normal though, because both are two pockets in one. The outside pocket is secured with a button, while the inside pocket is a hidden zipper one that’s not visible from the outside. It has a tiny zipper pull the same color as the shirt, plus the seam seals up when it’s zipped closed, so even with the button flap open nobody is going to know it’s there without pulling your pocket open and looking.
These shirt pockets would be the ideal place to store your cash and a credit card you need immediate access to—in several different spots. Or you can keep your passport and the rest of your valuables safely stored away in the P^Cubed pants. For once a matchy-matchy outfit would serve a real purpose. These look similar to other travel shirts you’ve seen though, so it’s not like anyone is going to know they’re the same brand as your pants.
What sets these apart from the competition is the feel of the fabric. Clothing Arts’ “Nature-like Nylon” is softer and more comfortable than the usual rugged but swishy nylon. The fabric has the same properties you want in a travel shirt though: moisture wicking, quick drying, and lightweight. It just feels better.
I’ve worn my sample long-sleeve shirt on a couple trips to cool climates and have been really happy with how it felt and performed. I like how it doesn’t scream “I’m an explorer,” even if that does mean there’s no button on the sleeve for rolling it up and converting it to a short-sleeve. It’s just a nice shirt with a secret.
These Clothing Arts travel shirts are just rolling off the production line and getting into the marketplace, but you can buy direct at that link for $70 (in white, tan, or dark gray) or wait until fall and find them in more locations.
Supposedly 9 out of 10 people on this planet live above the equator, so when we travel we tend to go somewhere hot. That means the kinds of shirts you’re packing for vacation are often ones suited for tropical climates. Then if you’re doing something active on top of that, wicking properties and a quick drying time after washing are especially important.
I’ve been packing three shirts on recent trips that have gone back into the bag for next time because they’ve served me well.
Craghoppers Pablo Solarshield T-shirt
With buttons like a henley but the fit of a t-shirt, this Craghoppers Solarshield for men looks good on a fit body and feels as comfortable as cotton…because it is. This is a technical shirt, but that’s because of what’s on it rather than what it’s made of. It’s treated with zinc oxide, that same stuff that’s in heavy-duty sunblock. As a result this doesn’t just protect your skin: it actually disperses heat and stays cooler than an untreated one.
I’m not usually checking the UV rays rating of the shirts I wear (I can’t ever remember getting sunburned through any shirt I’ve worn, but if you’ve got sensitive skin this will keep you looking good while you’re feeling safe.
There’s a nice hidden pocket for travel and a loop on the front for hanging your shades.
ExOfficio JavaTech Polo
Here’s a new twist on the coffee craze: a shirt that
embeds used coffee grounds in the fabric for superior performance. The fabric company website explains how this works. Supposedly the grounds help pull perspiration away from the skin, something that’s pretty hard to test, but I did have good luck with the claim that they neutralize odor molecules. This was a 2-day shirt no problem and I probably could have gone to three.
There’s a nice hidden stash pocket in the bottom hem, plus like most ExOfficio travel clothing this shirt dries in a jiffy.
You can get this fabric in a T-shirt or 1/4-zip, but I tried the polo shirt and really liked it.
New Balance Impact Shirt
This looks more like a running shirt than a travel shirt, but I’m seeing more and more of this type of shirt on backpackers and tourists alike in hot countries. This one’s better than most because like the Colombia items I reviewed recently, this shirt has a built-in cooling effect activated by your sweat.
The New Balance system is NB Ice with Xilitol and to me this felt noticeably cooler when I wore it on bikes rides and walks. Besides the ventilation to let out the heat, this temperature reduction fabric seems to help—the claim is it can lower your body temperature two degrees. That’s a big help. The reflectivity will keep you seen at night and the nanotech sun protection keeps you from getting burned in the daytime.
This Impact short-sleeve shirt looks good on me and it feels good, so it’s a keeper too on future trips.